Back in the early days of the Internet, it was imagined as a worldwide network that would unite all people of the world on a single platform. It was seen as a way to bring us closer to each other, delete the borders, and allow people from all corners of the globe to easily communicate, share ideas, interests, files, and more.
For a time, this worked, but as years went by, more and more issues such as geo-restrictions and online censorship emerged. The internet suddenly received borders and boundaries of its own, and the original idea was lost along the way.
Today, most countries feature geo-restricted services and content, which is only available to select regions. The UK is a good example of this, where nearly all of the country’s services are only available to those located in the UK. It doesn’t matter if you are a foreigner visiting the country, you will have access to all of it. It also doesn’t matter if you are a native traveling abroad, you lose all of your privileges as soon as you get past the customs.
In addition to this, some countries also introduced high levels of online surveillance. The US is among the top of the list when it comes to this, as well as the rest of the countries that make up the 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance alliance.
However, one country surpasses them all when it comes to all of these things, whether it is censorship, geo-restrictions, or online surveillance, and that country is China.
firewall of China
China has always been known for a few things — it’s Great Wall, long and rich history, huge population, and of course — censorship and surveillance. If you are not a Chinese citizen, you likely enjoy a number of websites, from social media, search engines, and video streaming services, to news websites, various forums, and more. None of this is available in China.
The country’s government is incredibly restrictive, and it does not allow its citizens nearly any contact to the outside world. Instead, it has developed its own versions of all of the websites people around the world tend to enjoy. Meanwhile, if you wish to access Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, or any other popular service — you simply can’t do it.
The Great Firewall of China, the country’s filtering system, will prevent anything from entering the country, or leaving it. As a result, its citizens are mostly isolated and are only hearing the news that the government deems appropriate.
Many would call this nothing short of tyranny, but this is how things are in China, and there is not much that anyone can do to change that. With a situation like that, a lot of Chinese citizens — as well as visitors — have started to rely on VPN technology.
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About VPN technology
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a technology that was developed quite a long time ago as a method of surfing the web with greater privacy, security, and anonymity. Initially, it was used mostly in businesses, but as many people become more educated on the dangers of privacy invasion online, many have seen the need to achieve anonymity online. Hackers, viruses, malware, and other online dangers have also pushed people to improve their security.
As for privacy — well, nobody enjoys being under a microscope, so that is pretty self-explanatory. VPNs allow you to achieve all of this by using a mix of techniques and security features, such as encryption, which makes your traffic unreadable, as well as security protocols, that shield it from view.
They also offer server networks, with servers located all around the world. By connecting to any of them, you replace your original IP address (given to you by your internet provider, or ISP) with one owned by the VPN service, and tied to a specific server. This is important as IP addresses carry information, such as your location, your ISP, and alike. All services and websites online use it to determine where you are from, and whether or not you should be able to access their content.
From the user’s point of view, this was a useful way to change their online location and hide the real one. A useful side effect is that services started viewing you as a citizen of another country, and they started allowing people access to geo-restricted content. So, if you are located in the US, and you really want to watch a British show — just connect to any server in the UK, and you will instantly be granted access.
Since this realisation, VPNs became not only tools used for security, but also for bypassing geo-restrictions and censorship. In fact, it would not be an overstatement to say that most people use them for this purpose today. This maybe comes from the fact that most people believe that they can avoid online dangers with or without a VPN, but they can’t avoid censorship.
With all of that in mind, it is not surprising that VPN usage skyrocketed in China as soon as the country became aware of them. Many find them to be crucial for accessing foreign content, and so they use them, as there is no other choice. In fact, some of the services even emerged in China itself, allowing people to access foreign websites.
China vs. VPN
Now, considering China’s feelings regarding what its people should or should not access, the use of VPNs was frowned upon for a very long time. The country could never openly ban them, as their own filter would also affect high-ranking officials who need to be able to bypass it and reach out. Too bad that the country had no such benefits planned for regular people.
Eventually, they came up with a sort-of ban that only allowed those with special permissions to use VPNs and reach foreign sites. Meanwhile, the country started issuing fines for those who used VPNs without such permissions.
Of course, this did not really do much, as the people got a taste of the outside world, and they liked it. Additionally, the country cannot instantly detect who is using a VPN, since being undetectable, anonymous, and keeping your privacy is the whole point of using such services. But, they will still fine and sue those they do catch, which has happened multiple times already.
This leads us to one of the relatively recent developments, which has seen VPNs in China banned from buying ads on Google.
Google bans Chinese VPN’s from buying ads
Of course, we already mentioned that China bans all kinds of foreign sites, and Google is on the list as well. Most of the tech giant’s products are unavailable in the country, but Google can still reach out to conduct AI research and help Chinese brands buy ads that would be displayed to Google’s international
Thanks to VPNs, many of China’s citizens can access Google and use it, and they even use the service’s email, cloud storage, maps, and more. However, when it comes to buying ads, Google recently announced that Chinese VPN firms would no longer be able to do it and offer their services to users on Google’s platform.
According to Google’s spokesperson, this is not exactly a new practice. The spokesperson stated that Google has an old, and long-standing policy that prevents ads for private servers in countries where such services are not legal. Since China is at the top of the list, it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen. After all, advertisers are the ones who need to comply with the local laws, and Google is no different.
We have already mentioned that China has started issuing fines for VPN users, and one of the most recent examples includes a citizen who used an app known as Lantern. After launching a lawsuit, the country used a 1997 public security law that forbids people to access ‘foreign internet’ without having permission from the government.
Also, back in 2017, the country also introduced a law that only allowed government-approved providers to offer VPNs. In the aftermath, Apple’s App Store had to remove up to 674 VPNs from its Chinese store.
In other words, the only VPNs that Chinese people are allowed to use are the ones approved by the government, which are likely to record and report their every move. This is the country’s way of allowing people their security, while the privacy and anonymity do not come as part of the package.
This is why many still opt to use foreign services, and risk being prosecuted. The alternative is to simply be locked away in China, without ever knowing what is true and what is the government’s propaganda.
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Using a VPN in China
The situation in China does complicate matters for visitors to the country, as it is unclear whether or not they are allowed to use foreign VPNs or not. If they are not, no one is quite sure what the consequences of using a VPN might be.
Meanwhile, the locals still wish to reach out and join the real internet, which most of us tend to take for granted. To do this, they are using some of the top foreign VPN services which allow them to be truly anonymous while surfing the web.
With that in mind, it is important to them to use services that will not keep logs, provide strong protection, offer plenty of servers, and still remain as cheap as possible. This is why many choose to use NymGuard — a VPN that believes that privacy is a human right.
NymGuard offers the strongest encryption on the market — 256-bit AES encryption. It also keeps no logs, and everything that you do while connected is deleted. This includes metadata, browsing history, traffic destination, DNS queries, and more. It is simple to set up and use, and it is very affordable. In fact, NymGuard offers a free 7-day trial for users on iOS and Android and also offers a 30-day moneyback guarantee on all plans.
Using the internet in China without a VPN is extremely limiting and restrictive, which is why a lot of people tend to use this technology, even if it is against the law. This is also often a practice that visitors to the country need to prepare for. Due to such laws, even Google stopped advertising Chinese VPNs on its platform, which should be enough to explain the gravity of the situation.
Even so, a VPN is necessary, as, without one, it is pretty much the same as not having internet access at all. The fact is that China is not a privacy and freedom-friendly country, people simply need to find a way to accept it or deal with it in their own way. Despite all the issues, a VPN is still the best option, although if you opt to use it, you are doing so at your own risk.
1. Get NymGuard VPN
Simply sign up to NymGuard then download and install our app on the device of your choice. We offer a 7-day free trial on our iOS and Android apps and a 30-day money-back guarantee on all accounts.
2. Connect to your prefered location
Select a location from our list of global servers – this is the location that you will be appearing to browse from – if you want to use a service only available in the US, for example, connect to the US server.
3. Use the web with peace of mind
With fast servers and modern protocols, NymGuard adds an extra layer of security to your online experience, so you can enjoy browsing with peace of mind.
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